Gov. John Hickenlooper took his moment in the spotlight at the 2016 Democratic National Convention to brag on Denver's and Colorado's economic boom, ahead of Hillary Clinton's speech accepting the party's nomination for president.
He also recalled how he was once laid off from a job, and then rounded up a group of investors to start the Wynkoop Brewery in a warehouse in Denver's LoDo neighborhood. From that pub he went on to be the city's mayor, before winning the governor's office.
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Hickenlooper took some shots at Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump for the businessman's bankruptcies. He also emphasized his belief in Clinton's idea that "it takes a village" in private and public partnerships to help drive economic health.
"I’ve never hosted a reality TV show but I know the true mark of a successful businessman isn’t the number of times you say 'you’re fired!'" Hickenlooper said, alluding to one Trump's signature lines. "It’s the number of times you say, 'you’re hired!'"
He added, "I’m a business guy. But unlike that other candidate’s businesses, my business didn’t go bankrupt six times."
A Denver Democratic state representative also spoke to the delegates as well. Colorado House Majority Leader Crisanta Duran said Clinton would embrace this country’s diversity through "a government that respects and protects the rights of all people. So what we look like and who we love has no bearing on our opportunity.”
Duran is a sixth generation Coloradan of Native American and Mexican descent. She spoke Thursday afternoon.
Read a transcript of Hickenlooper's prepared remarks:
Thirty years ago, almost to the day, I lost my job. Whether it’s being laid off, downsized, or fired, it’s not funny, and not a reality show punchline when it happens to you. And it wasn’t just me, a whole generation of geologists lost their careers in that recession. It is hard when you feel you aren’t wanted anymore.
After many months, with hardly an interview, a buddy and I decided to start the first brewpub in Colorado. We had no money. Even my own mother wouldn’t invest. Finally, 18 months later, we opened in an abandoned warehouse district. We got 34 small investors, two bank loans, a loan from the city, and a loan from the SBA. And slowly but surely, we grew, and thrived, and expanded.
Now I’ve never hosted a reality TV show, but I know that the true mark of a successful businessman is not the number of times you say, “You’re fired”; it’s the number of times you say, “You’re hired.” That’s right, I’m a business guy. But unlike that other candidate’s businesses, my business didn’t go bankrupt six times.
Success is sweeter when it’s shared — and that’s just as true in business as it is in life.
In the neighborhood in which we opened our brewpub, there were a handful of other entrepreneurs trying to develop lofts or start businesses. Together, we worked with the Downtown Denver Partnership, the tourism board, and the city to create a sense of place. More entrepreneurs arrived to start more businesses. The neighborhood took off, and so did Denver.
Sure, it was my buddy and I who took the risk. But as Hillary Clinton says, “It takes a village” – businesses, government, the community – working together to create opportunity. She understands that even in Colorado, land of “rugged individualism,” our economy is Stronger Together.
As a small businessman, then mayor of Denver, and now governor, I’ve seen how partnerships drive economies. Today, Denver is the fastest-growing big city in America, and Colorado has the second strongest economy in the country. Compare that to Donald Trump’s trickle-down economics – where he doesn’t pay his bills and small businesses go out of business.
I’ve spent time with Hillary and I can tell you, from a small business perspective, she gets it. Tremendous changes in our economy are making people feel that they aren’t wanted anymore. I know the feeling. Many of the skills that would have been tickets to the middle class are no longer needed. That’s why we discussed not only the importance of education and training, but streamlining regulations, expanding access to loans, incentivizing innovation, and how to support the transformation of new ideas into jobs. I told her about Colorado’s new apprenticeship initiative that allows kids to both work, and take classes that allow them to be more successful in their jobs.
And Hillary Clinton understands that, especially in these economic times, partnerships can lead to opportunity, which is why she wants to offer tax breaks to companies that offer apprenticeships in underserved areas.
She’s going to make the largest investment in jobs since World War II. She’ll cut red tape and taxes so it’s easier to start and grow a small business. Hillary Clinton is going to work for the young entrepreneur who wants to open a brewpub, or launch a start-up, or even create a drapery business, just like her dad, Hugh Rodham, did all those years ago in Chicago.
Tonight, Hillary Clinton accepts the nomination for President of the United States. Tomorrow, we’re going to get down to business.
We all have a job to do: electing Hillary Clinton. Let’s get to work!